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Group seeks state funds for cultural organizations

Over the past several years, the state’s Cultural Facilities Fund has been an important source of money for local institutions such as the Amherst Cinema Arts Center, the Academy of Music in Northampton and CitySpace in Easthampton.

But the fund has been suspended during challenging economic times, leaving in limbo opportunities to repair, rebuild and expand cultural facilities across the state.

The Invest in Our Cultural Facilities Coalition is hoping to change that.

On Thursday, the coalition, made up of arts, government and business leaders, began a direct appeal to Gov. Deval Patrick to allocate the remaining $26 million available in the fund so that cultural venues can meet growing demands

Matt Wilson, executive director of MassCreative, a statewide organization lobbying on behalf of the art, cultural and creative community, said in a statement that the fund means an investment in communities.

“It’s time for the governor to open the doors to the Cultural Facilities Fund and invest the remaining $26 million to ensure our arts and cultural venues continue to thrive,” Wilson said.

Tony Maroulis, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, said the fund has been particularly important to Amherst.

“This is an economic stimulus type of fund,” Maroulis said. “The investment in arts and tourism goes a long way.”

Since established, 35 grants totaling $5.04 million were provided to 26 organizations in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties.

The fund was created by the state legislature in 2007 and administered by MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. It was slated to provide $50 million over five years.

Since its beginning in 2007, other local projects funded include A.P.E. Ltd. (Available Potential Enterprises) and the Northampton Community Music Center, both in Northampton; the Emily Dickinson Museum, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, National Yiddish Book Center and WFCR Foundation, all in Amherst; the Porter Phelps Huntington Museum in Hadley; the Earthdance Creative Living Project in Plainfield and Historic Deerfield.

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